Zanzibar launches new Wasoko tech hub for start-ups
The launch of the Wasoko Innovation Hub in Zanzibar by African e-commerce company Wasoko, in partnership with the regional government, marks the latest milestone in its rapid growth journey, which saw the start-up named as Africa’s fastest growing company by the Financial Times in May 2022.
Located in Fumba Town, the Wasoko Innovation Hub will focus on building world-class technology solutions and become a home for more than 500 engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers from Africa and across the globe.
The project is hailed as the first private-public partnership between an African tech start-up and the Zanzibar government for Silicon Zanzibar – a new government initiative to attract and relocate tech companies from across Africa to the tropical island.
When Kenya began implementing in July the Finance Act — which targets tech establishments, making Nairobi less attractive to tech-based start-ups — Wasoko’s CEO Daniel Yu had already started the search for an African government “which is heavily interested in supporting our mission.” Yu says he found Zanzibar’s fiscal policies more supportive to his expansion plan across Africa, which led to the relocation of the start-up’s tech head office from Nairobi to Zanzibar.
Wasoko, which has now expanded to six African countries since its inception six years ago, “considered more traditional centers such as Dubai and London [as its tech hub, but] we were ultimately committed to the belief that technology for Africa should be built in Africa, Yu explains. Setting up its base in Zanzibar also allows Wasoko to better understand its Swahili speaking clients in mainland Tanzania, whose start-up policies are just as attractive. In order to attract more tech companies to Zanzibar, the government will also offer strong incentives under the country’s existing Free Economic Zone program including an exemption from corporate income tax for ten years.